5 Things to Do on Salt Spring Island

5 Things to Do on Salt Spring Island

One of the best things about living in Victoria is easy access to the southern Gulf Islands. From Swartz Bay, you can hop on a wee ferry and be on Salt Spring Island in just 35 minutes.

(Pssst, if you haven’t been there before, going to Salt Spring is basically like visiting The Shire. Think: rolling fertile hills, local everything, charming cottages and tiny villages.)

As soon as you set foot on the island you’ll want to let the laid-back hippie vibes take over and soak up some R&R. Here are five ways to get your Salt Spring on.

1) Check out a local farm

Salt Spring Island Cheese is known for its chevres, sold as far east as Toronto and as far south as California. Now is your chance to wander the farm, see the animals and taste the fresh cheese for yourself. Try the Basil Chevre or the White Juliette, made to taste like a goat Camembert. There’s even a café open for lunch from mid-June through till the end of August.

Salt Spring Island Cheese's Basil Chevre.

Salt Spring Island Cheese’s Basil Chevre.

If you’re feeling thirsty, head over to Salt Spring Wild Cider for a glass of island-made cider in a historic farm setting (open Saturdays and Sundays). They offer sample flights, individual tastings and ciders to purchase and share on the farm. Take a picnic and soak up some Salt Spring.

New ciders! Elderberry/Flower and Pear!!

A photo posted by Salt Spring Wild Cider (@saltspringwild) on

2) Visit Salt Spring Island Saturday Market

Every Saturday from April through October, you can visit one of Canada’s best-loved outdoor arts, crafts and farm markets. Finds include fresh breads, soaps, flowers, pottery, pastries and paintings. The rule is vendors must “make it, bake it or grow it.” Live music and entertainment help make it a proper outing.

Salt Spring Island Saturday Market always draws a crowd.

Salt Spring Island Saturday Market always draws a crowd. Photo via Shannon on Flickr.

3) Hike Mount Erskine

The hike up Mount Erskine will get your heart rate up, but don’t worry — fairy doors seem to be perfectly positioned along the way so you can surreptitiously take a breather while investigating. Plus: what’s more quintessentially Salt Spring than fairy doors?

One of many fairy doors you'll discover on the way up Mount Erskine.

One of many fairy doors you’ll discover on the way up Mount Erskine.

It takes about 45 minutes to reach the top, where there’s a stunning view all the way west to Chemainus and north to Howe Sound.

Beware: Once you've scaled Mount Erskine you may feel the urge to strike funny poses.

Beware: Once you’ve scaled Mount Erskine you may feel the urge to strike silly poses.

4) Drive up Mount Maxwell

If you want a great viewpoint minus the sweat, head for Mount Maxwell, where you can drive (or hike) to one of the highest ridges on Salt Spring. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles swooping off the cliff edges.

The view from Mount Maxwell is prettty nice. Photo: Herb Neufeld via Flickr.

The view from Mount Maxwell is pretttty nice. Photo: Herb Neufeld via Flickr.

5) Kayak to Chocolate Beach

I’ve done this kayak trip twice and I still can’t wait to do it again. Plan for a two- to three-hour outing, during which you’ll paddle along a set of small islands en route to Chocolate Beach, a gleaming white shell beach on Third Sister Island.

Swing time, anyone?

Swing time, anyone? Photo: Kyla Mandel.

Plan to take a picnic and chill out and enjoy this gorgeous beach, which feels more Mediterranean than Canadian. Island Escapades offers rentals and guided tours.

Kayaks taking a break at Chocolate Beach.

Kayaks taking a break at Chocolate Beach. Photo: Kyla Mandel.

 

Where to Stay

Wondering where to stay? For a super luxurious getaway, check out Stonehouse Bed & Breakfast with its geothermal-heated hot tub, insanely indulgent rooms, panoramic views and its very own standing stone circle. Yes, seriously.

It's worth staying at Stonehouse B&B for the bocce views alone.

It’s worth staying at Stonehouse B&B for the bocce views alone.

If you’re looking for something a little lower budget, check out Harbour House Hotel, Restaurant and Organic Farm.

What do you love to do on Salt Spring? Share your tips in the comments below.

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